Weighted blankets and lap pads changing lives

Handmade to heal

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Custom-made blankets are helping those living with anxiety, attention deficit disorders and even autism.

Jacob is a first-grader who loves to draw. He also loves school, but it hasn't always been easy for him.

"The challenge was keeping him in his seat, and being focused on what the teacher was saying," his mom, Heather Litterell said.

Litterell remembers what it was like a few months ago when her son had challenges in school. She didn't know how to help him until she discovered weighted blankets and lap pads. 

"It's like a hug, but without another person having to be involved, which is kind of cool," Jocelyn Dimaya said. 

Inside her Bakersfield studio, Dimaya makes the weighted blankets and lap pads. She says they can help people living with anxiety, attention deficit disorders and autism.

"The blankets just have this calming effect," Dimaya said.

There are squares sewn onto the blanket that are full of poly pellets, giving the blanket its weight. Dimaya makes the blankets to weigh around 10% of a person's bodyweight. The lap pads weigh between two and four pounds.

Dimaya started making the blankets and lap pads a few months ago after learning how helpful they can be from the people at the Kern Autism Network. She learned that Jacob loved foxes, so she made his lap pad with a fox fabric. 

Litterell says Jacob was diagnosed with autism two years ago. The lap pad helps him sit still in class, and his mom noticed a major difference in his grades.

"He's succeeding in the mainstream classroom because I have proof, we just got the report card," Litterell said.

Jacob's teacher even sent a note home the first day he used it, saying the lap pad is amazing. Now, Jacob wears his lap pad at school every day. He uses his weighted blanket every night.

"You put it on top of him and he goes, 'Ahhh.' It's like everything goes away, he's relaxed now," Litterell said.

If you'd like to purchase a blanket or lap pad, Jocelyn Dimaya can be reached via email at jocelyndimaya@alum.calarts.edu.

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